“Being Mr. G”

Posted on June 18th, 2012 in Perspectives on Leadership by John Jensen

I came across a video a while ago from a Toastmasters competition.  For those of you who don’t know what Toastmasters is, it is an organization of public speakers that hold competitions in public speaking.  The video is of a speech by J.A. Gamache from 2007.  In this speech Gamache tells a story that I would like to share with you.


It is a bright sunny day and you are taking a train.  You are wearing a pair of sandals you proudly made yourself.  As you board the train, one of your homemade sandals falls off to the track.  You try to retrieve it, too late; the train starts to pull away.  What would you have done?  I would have cursed my bad luck “Man, losing a sandal.”  Ladies and Gentlemen, I once read a biography of a man I like to call “Mr. G” who once lived the same situation.  When Mr. G realized he could not get his sandal back, he quickly pulled off his other sandal and tossed it by the tracks.  When asked why he did that Mr. G replied, “the poor man who finds my first sandal will be very grateful to find the second one. 

This story, in my opinion, really embodies the idea of servant leadership.  When you live as a servant leader and when you embrace the behaviors of a servant leader you will begin to see these unfortunate situations as an opportunity to serve your fellow human beings.  “Mr. G” in this story takes his own misfortune and turns it into an opportunity to better the life of someone else.

At this point you are probably asking yourself, “Who is this Mr. G?”  I’m sure you have heard of him.  His name was Mahatma Gandhi.  Gandhi was an amazing individual who was capable of carrying out a revolution of love and peace.  Gandhi was also one of the greatest servant leaders that has ever lived (in my opinion.)  Gandhi had no desire to become rich or famous, in fact he gave up his profession as a lawyer in order to live a life of poverty and to lead his revolution of love.  Gandhi was dedicated to helping the people of India gain their independence from Great Britain.  Gandhi once said, If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”   This quote has often been translated to the famous bumper sticker “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  While Gandhi never actually said this, it is the basic meaning of the Gandhi quote above.  It is also the philosophy that we as servant leaders need to embrace to make the world a better place.  So next time misfortune crosses your path, try to be a Mr. G and turn it into an opportunity to improve humanity.


Here is a video of the “Being Mr. G” Speech:


Until Next Time,

John Jensen

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. –Martin Luther King Jr.

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